Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Government and Science: A Critical, Troubled Relationship and What Can be Done About It

Author:W. Henry Lambright
Date: 2008
Publication:Public Administration Review.

The U.S. government–science relationship, which helped win World War II, put a man on the moon, unravel the human genome, and nurture economic growth, is troubled. Money is one reason. However, far more than funding, the tensions between government and science are about politics and policy management. Many scientists and their allies argue that the Bush administration has crossed the line separating appropriate control of information from political interference. That is, there has been a “politicization of science.” This essay examines the current debate about politicization in historical context; discusses the tensions among scientists, politicians, and administrators; and suggests possible ways to strengthen the government–science partnership in the future.


W Henry Lambright
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 11/30/2010 21:22:18